Dan Rossi is West Tisbury interim chief
West Tisbury selectmen have appointed police Sgt. Dan Rossi to replace Chief Beth Toomey, when her retirement becomes official on April 14. Chief Toomey recommended during last week's selectmen's meeting that Sgt. Rossi assume the leadership position. The appointment is for a six-month period, during which the selectmen will devise a process for selection of a new police chief and try to make the appointment.
Chief Toomey, speaking briefly to the selectmen, acknowledged that, "there are many wonderful and capable people working for the department," but the appointment of Sgt. Rossi would, she said, provide the time to prepare for the permanent selection process and get the town through the summer.
Selectmen Dianne Powers, the chairman, and Richard Knabel agreed. Selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter, a West Tisbury police officer, abstained.
Ms. Powers, who is stepping down as selectman this year, said that she hoped that after the annual town meeting in April, a committee would be appointed to oversee the selection process. She said that she "would like to be on that committee very much."
Sgt. Rossi, 48, has been in law enforcement for 19 years and is a 17-year veteran of the department. He says that he intends to apply for the chief position when it is posted.
"Chief Toomey has trusted me since day number one and groomed me, and this position is something that I have always wanted to do," Mr. Rossi said.
As acting chief, Sgt. Rossi says his main goal will be "to keep the department moving forward," with a special focus on "staying up with technology." The department includes nine full-time officers and three summer officers.
"Things in police work keep changing as new people move here, new laws are enacted, and changes in law enforcement practices occur," Sgt. Rossi said.
In other business, executive secretary Jennifer Rand told the selectmen that there will be no article on the warrant to provide the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce with the $10,000 requested at a recent selectmen's meeting. According to Ms. Rand, town counsel advised that it is illegal for the town to make a contribution of this kind to a private organization. All of the Island towns had been asked to help the chamber overcome a substantial shortfall in funds caused by cutbacks by the state, but Ms. Rand said that none of the towns are expected to make such a payment.
And, Ms. Rand acknowledged receipt of a letter from the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank reporting that the Rogers Path property owners affected by a January 25 Superior Court ruling will appeal that decision. Judge C. Brian McDonald decided for the town and the Land Bank, holding that the public has established a prescriptive right to use the ancient way. The ruling further states that a management agreement for the care and use of the road, entered into by the town and the Land Bank in 2001, defines the terms or the public use and care of the path.